Universal Access To All Knowledge
Home Donate | Store | Blog | FAQ | Jobs | Volunteer Positions | Contact | Bios | Forums | Projects | Terms, Privacy, & Copyright
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload

Reply to this post | See parent post | Go Back
View Post [edit]

Poster: Administrator, Curator, or Staffakb Date: Jul 25, 2005 12:34am
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Help needed with copyright issues.

Where can I find *reliable* information about movies' public domain status? (and please remember that the only way of finding any info, at least for time being, is using Internet sources)

The Copyright Office has records from after 1978 online. Those records are reliable but far from complete.

All other sources of information on the 'net about copyrighted movies are incomplete and unreliable. They primarily take the form of footage houses that sell copies. However their lists may be inaccurate or not take into account music, story, etc rights.

Does PD status mean that these movies are always public domain, even if they are part of some collection? So, if I rip PD movies from some megapack DVD collection, would that violate someone's copyright (even if the movie itself is PD)?

Restored versions of public domain works may be copyrighted if a substantial amount of creativity went into the restoration. You can see this if you look up DVD prices for a title like "His Girl Friday". You'll see a $25 version from Columbia and a slew of $5-$10 versions from budget vendors.

Also, occassionally an international treaty has restored copyright status to works that were previously public domain, though this is rare.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: taji Date: May 11, 2007 6:38pm
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Help needed with copyright issues.

Sorry to revive an old thread but I'd like to point out something and seek furthur comment.

"Restored versions of public domain works may be copyrighted if a substantial amount of creativity went into the restoration. You can see this if you look up DVD prices for a title like "His Girl Friday". You'll see a $25 version from Columbia and a slew of $5-$10 versions from budget vendors."

Wouldn't this fall under the category of "slavish copy". Based on this note in wikipedia:

"A work that is merely a "slavish copy", or even a restoration of an original public domain work is not subject to copyright protection. In the case of Hearn v. Meyer, 664 F. Supp 832 (S.D.N.Y. 1987), an illustrator attempted unsuccessfully to claim copyright on his painstakingly restored versions of original Wizard of Oz illustrations. The illustrations were in the public domain, and the court found that the act of rendering them with bolder and more vibrant colors was not an original contribution sufficient to remove the restored works from the public domain."

link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Public_domain

Notice the key word here "restoration". Also thoroughy described in this article:

http://chnm.gmu.edu/digitalhistory/links/cached/chapter7/link7.22a.originality(11-04).html

Looks like any film restoration of a public domain film ,no matter how slavish, would still be public domain. Obviously things like colorization of a black and white film or a new soundtrack could be seen as providing a "level of originality", but the specific work of restoration would be seen as a slavish copy.

As with everybody else, I'm not a lawyer and I'm just as curious as everyone else. My big question is where does that leave the Sony Criterion Collection's public domain DVD titles? This would include such classics as "Carnival of Souls", "M", "My Man Godfrey", "Pygmalion", "Spellbound", "Seven Samurai", and many others.

All beautifully restored but still each one is only a restoration.





Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: PDboy Date: Jul 25, 2005 1:57am
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Help needed with copyright issues.

Thanks for your answer...

***All other sources of information on the 'net about copyrighted movies are incomplete and unreliable. They primarily take the form of footage houses that sell copies. However their lists may be inaccurate or not take into account music, story, etc rights.***

Yeah, I've seen those lists. I think they are somewhat misleading, because there's stuff like Bugs Bunny animations. Those are probably PD by some weird loophole somewhere, but unless I'm not mistaken Bugs Bunny itself is trademarked, so using those movies somehow wouldn't violate copyrights but it would violate trademark laws, or something like that.
(Not being a lawyer I'm not sure how that really goes.)


***Restored versions of public domain works may be copyrighted if a substantial amount of creativity went into the restoration.***

This is interesting, I didn't know that.
But how can there be any creativity in restoration? Restoration doesn't change the content, and even if it does significantly then the result is considered to be a new piece of work, and its copyright status is not connected with any of the source material copyrights. At least that's how it is according to legislation I know. Maybe American laws are different, but I have never heard of restoration copyrights.


***You can see this if you look up DVD prices for a title like "His Girl Friday". You'll see a $25 version from Columbia and a slew of $5-$10 versions from budget vendors.***

Yeah. I think there is some restored version of "Dressed to Kill" (Sherlock Holmes movie, which is in this archive as well). That would explain why these budget collections always use some old version instead of better versions (I have always wondered why, but that restoration law would explain it).

But in all likelihood the budget versions (like 50 movies for $20) are pure PD, I think, like the stuff in this archive.
Still I find it confusing to think that I could copy and sell "Dressed to Kill" from this archive (if that is really PD), I could probably use DVD version from a budget collection, but NOT restored DVD version. Legal things are confusing...


This post was modified by PDboy on 2005-07-25 08:57:10

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: kris1999 Date: Jul 25, 2005 2:31am
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Help needed with copyright issues.

--But how can there be any creativity in restoration? Restoration doesn't change the content--

If you mean morally, well I suppose if someone puts a lot of effort into restoring something then they need to be compensated somehow.

Otherwise, if a damaged print is in the public domain, no commercial company would ever be able to restore it because they'd have no way of making money from it.

A good example is Buster Keaton's masterpiece "The General". If I remember rightly, the original print was in a terrible condition in someone's cellar, totally forgotten. It was restored directly from the original print, and because it was a silent movie they wrote and recorded a brand new musical score in keeping with what the original film.

They'd restored it, but they'd also put a substantial amount of time, money and effort into the restoration. Without the restoration the film might have been lost.

In this case, I think it's reasonable of them to expect compensation for the work they put into it.

On the other hand, some "restorations" aren't that necessary, and many of them are said to ruin films. Many colourised films for example were condemned by directors because they weren't true to the original film makers' vision.

A lot of people have commented that the "restored" version of Night Of The Living Dead is worse than the original version here on archive.org. The added scenes are often said to be superficial and the tidied up original scenes now look too clean and too modern.

In the end though, if you don't want to pay someone for restoring a public domain film, you don't have to. The original print is free, so if you're happy with it you're under no obligation to buy a restored version.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: LamontAllard Date: Jul 26, 2005 2:29am
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Help needed with copyright issues.

I think they are somewhat misleading, because there's stuff like Bugs Bunny animations. Those are probably PD by some weird loophole somewhere, but unless I'm not mistaken Bugs Bunny itself is trademarked, so using those movies somehow wouldn't violate copyrights but it would violate trademark laws, or something like that.

When it comes to copyrighted characters, it can get a little fuzzy. Take for example the old Superman cartoons (available here on the archive and on DVD for $1 at Wal-Marts across the country). "Superman" is CURRENTY copyrighted by Warner Bros., which owns DC Comics. However, at the time, the character was owned by Action Comics and the cartoons were produced by a now-dead company. So WB holds no claim.

And an interesting thing about the Bugs Bunny cartoons: if you watch them, you'll find they are completely intact EXCEPT that the opening music is removed. That's because the famous music used in those cartoons, "The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down," IS still under copyright. But... remove that, and those few cartoons are PD. Not EVERY Bugs Bunny cartoon, but a few of 'em.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: kris1999 Date: Aug 6, 2005 5:41am
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Help needed with copyright issues.

There was an article about this in The Economist, when it looked like the first Mickey Mouse film was about to go out of copyright. It didn't happen in the end because Disney lobbied congress to extend the copyright period for all films to 85 years (and presumably in a few years time they'll extend it again to 95 years, then to 105 years etc because Disney is unstoppable).

According to the Economist's article, if the first Mickey Mouse film had gone out of copyright it would have allowed non-Disney people to freely distribute copies of the original print (of course) and also allow people to make films featuring characters from the original film and even copy the artwork from that first film.

The Economist's opinion was that the trademarks of characters only apply to merchandising (hence "trademarks" rather than "artmarks"). Trademarks can last forever, but they cannot protect works of art such as books or films.

The first Superman cartoons are out of copyright and people can distribute them, but they cannot use the character on any kind of merchandise. What seems unclear to me is if it would be permitted for a non-DC person to make a sequel to the original cartoons, using the original's style.

The important point to remember is that non-Disney people couldn't copy anything from later Mickey Mouse films, for example the later designs of Mickey. They'd have to stick entirely to the first one or derive stuff from the first one.

This post was modified by kris1999 on 2005-08-06 12:41:22